25/8/20174

The sands are shiftingComments

Blogging is a particularly singular and personal act despite your posts being publicly available - the unedited voice of a person and all that.

Reading and commenting on blog posts, however, is an inherently social act carried out on a range of scales. Unfortunately, over the years, we have slipped towards the lower end of that range.

Recent posts, discussion and approaches, however, are converging to give me renewed optimism that blogging can regain some of its status and power.

Firstly, micro.blog is a force for blogging connectedness, as I keep saying. Next, there is Richard MacManus' intention to reinvigorate a blogging community. And then Dave Winer's idea to make blogging more like Facebook (but not a silo) and his first efforts with the technology behind "Instant Dave" look interesting.

Then, of course, there is the indieweb movement which, as a whole, is built around the idea of interconnected personal sites.

It feels that there is a concerted effort not to usurp the social networks (they are ideal for certain things which is why they're so popular) but to ensure that blog posts are in the places most suited.

And not just that: to also get bloggers discovering and talking to each other again; to build a genuine dialogue rather than be isolated voices shouting into the abyss.

It may seem like I am repeating myself (and you'd probably be right) but this is something I think deserves repeating.

We have reached a point where a small number of outlets control the bulk of the web's communication, outlets that initially seem ideally suited to the task but operate according to their own rules and agendas. Outlets that control how information is presented, filtered and potentially removed.

Without any real accountability.

Medium tried to buck the trend attracting many influential people but their approach doesn't look sustainable, jumping between business models with no clear path.

What Medium did achieve, however, was to bring blogging back from the wilderness and reintroduce it (as an important means of expression) to the online conversation, raising awareness within the "social generation" who never knew life before Facebook and Twitter.

Never mind SnapChat and the multitude of messaging apps.

It may have become disparagingly known as the place to rant about losing/quit your job but the ease with which celebrities, CEOs and presidents could share extended thoughts with the world cannot be understated. In fact, that ease needs to be replicated by other tools allowing casual or infrequent bloggers to publish as often or as little as they like without a heavy investment or learning curve.

Just in a better environment.

Those looking to do something about it may be coming from different directions with different approaches but their goals are as good as the same.

The sands are shifting and I hope we can find a true oasis in the desert.

The sands are shifting
#

I'm testing a workaround to the problem I was having loading the contents of certain remote pages when posting a 'like'.

As my workflow already grabs the page title (so I can check it before posting) I now add this to the post as an additional custom field.

I have then created a stream context with a 15 second timeout:

$opts = array(
  'http'=>array(
    'method'=>'get',
    'timeout'=>15,
  )
);

$context = stream_context_create($opts);

and applied it to the remote page collection:

$doc->loadHTMLFile($meta_url, false, $context);

So, if the attempt at loading the page within WordPress times out a quick check means it will fall back to the new custom field instead.

I'll add this to the 'reply' workflow as well.

Status
#

The workaround seems pretty solid. Technically, if I'm already collecting the URL and page title in Workflow, I don't need to bother at all within WordPress - just insert the marked up link - but I like the redundancy it provides.

Status